Thursday, January 07, 2010

Jiminy Cricket, the Revolution Will Not Be Televised!


Yoinked from Lucianne. Meanwhile, let me determine if I have sufficient mojo to come up with an actual post today. Probably not. "Forcing the slack" is a contradiction in terms, like "compulsive spontaneity."

*****

What the heck. We haven't had an antichrist update in awhile, have we? This is a repost of something I originally propheseen comin' two years ago, by which time the dreary contours of Obama's soul were coming into focus -- all of us, if you bend over and hear what I'm saying. In short, we are now living in the future of which this post was a shadow. Or, to be precise, it was more the case of a shadowy future casting its darkness into the present for any gnocturnal b'atman to see. So let's see if we knew more about Obama than Obama knows about America, shall we?

****

Will brought up a very important point in a comment yesterday. It was in response to my questions, "What great world-historical events are invisible to the jaded elites of the present? What great vertical energies (↓) are entering the world today, undetected by a spiritually oblivious moonstream media?" Will's reflections on this are worth reproducing in full:

"There is a danger here, I think, given that this might be the age when 'Spirit pours out on all flesh,' i.e., the vertical energies actually do become, in a way, more visible, more tangible, even to the oblivious MSM.

"The danger is this: the influx of vertical energies for the most part cannot find suitable spiritual anchoring, do not result in a growth of spiritual insight and wisdom, but rather the vertical energies might be suborned by the horizontal in an entirely unwholesome way.

"An example: hypothetically speaking, let's say... oh, let's say, some political candidate who's running for... oh, let's say, for president of the United States... Let's say this candidate uses the influx of vertical energy in such a way that it does not invest him with any particular wisdom -- in fact, this candidate mouths and apparently believes in the same old amorphous lefty platitudes. Only... this candidate seems invested with a peculiar type of charisma that has citizens from coast to coast virtually swooning in some orgasmystical ecstasy... no one's higher intellect is sharpened, only their *feelings* are set on fire by this candidate in some peculiar way...

"Well, as was said re: the days when the Spirit pours out on all flesh, one must be very careful not to fall for false messiahs and whatnot... meanwhile, there are those who indeed are spiritually anchoring the vertical energy influx and are doing so invisibly and with a certain amount of travail, as is necessary at this time."

***

First of all, let's get this out of the way at the outset. Are we calling Obama the antichrist?

Yes, of course.

Nah, just kidding. Let's just say an unwitting vehicle of the antichristic principle, which anyone can be at one time or another. Please, let's be mature, and discuss this in terms of abstract cosmic principles, without getting polemical or personal. No need to demonize someone just because he's an instrument of satan. Besides, he's just the vehicle, not the driver. The surfer, not the wave.

Now, what do we mean by "antichrist?" I would say that, as Christ is Word-made-flesh, the realm of the antichristic would analogously represent the "lower principle" made flesh -- the instantiation, as it were, of the energies of the Fall.

So first of all, to go along with our analysis, one must believe that man is in some sense a fallen being with a built-in -- or at least inevitable -- design flaw. You certainly needn't be a fanatic about it, since this comports with common sense and with virtually infinite historical examples.

You have only to know that "something ain't right" with the earthlings, however you wish to conceptualize it. Being aware of this principle is one of our greatest inoculations against utopian leftist schemes to perfect mankind, which always result in unanticipated cosmic belowback, or "hell on earth."

Secondly, you would have to believe that it is possible for the energies responsible for the Fall to be personified -- or, let us say, both focused and dispersed like a beam of darkness through the concavity or convexations of man's heart. As Christ is a blinding light, antichrist would be, oh, a hollow darkness.

Thus, to those who live in spiritual darkness, it would appear as a false light -- as, say, a single match is brighter than the sun in an enclosed room, cut off from the real source of light. And the hollowness would be mistaken for fulness as a result of its receptiveness to primitive projection. Thus, a spiritually normal person sees Obama as unusually empty while others project all sorts of wonderful things into him -- intelligence, wisdom, sophistication, prudence, courage, temperance, etc.

The Serpent -- to paraphrase our best Unknown Friend -- sssymbolizes advanced intelligence ("the most cunning of the beasts") turned wholly toward the horizontal. Thus, it is a perversion of man's intellect, as it represents a self-sufficient naturalism and total (small r) realism that betrays -- literally, for it turns against it in rebellion -- the vertical source of human intelligence. As such, we would expect one aspect of the antichristic to be high intelligence combined with extraordinary vapidity, at least for those with spiritual discernment.

But this cannot merely be the philosophical vapidity of the doctrinaire atheist or scientistic materialist or ideological Darwinian, or it could never gain traction in the human heart, which always hungers for Spirit, even (or especially) if it is the false and meretricious kind (otherwise, Balthasar or Schuon would sell more books than Deepak or Marianne Williamson).

Rather, it would have to come cloaked in some sort of seductive or hypnotic faux verticality. It would indeed have to be charismatic and charming, bearing in mind the root meaning of former, which is "divine gift," and of the latter, which is "incantation" or "magic spell."

A spiritually normal person would be alarmed and even deeply creeped out if he possessed this kind of influence over others. At the very least, it would be an occasion for the deepest humility, combined with concern over the precarious state of the spiritually famished souls under his influence.

Most people, if they knew the implications, would not want this power, because they would know that they are neither worthy of it nor competent to deal with it, any more than they are competent to perform brain surgery. But a person with narcissistic issues will be too intoxicated by the feelings of adulation to care about the souls with whom he is toying. They are just props, part of his psychic furniture.

This power is a serious responsibility and is not to be taken lightly. The spiritually normal person knows that this charis is only on loan to him (or courses through him locally from a nonlocal source), and that he is not free to use it as he will. At the very least, one could not purposely lie to those who place their trust in you, let alone on the grand scale committed by Obama.

Rather, one is only free to use this power if it is aligned with its vertical source and with vertical principles, i.e., Truth, Love, Beauty, and Unity (not relativism, idiot compassion, aesthetic barbarism, and fractious pseudo-diversity).

There is something coming through the charismatic, not from him, and as soon as one realizes this, it is an occasion, yes, for gratitude, but also fear and trembling. It is analogous to the power to send men to die for their country, only on the vertical plane. It is the ability to inspire selfless martyrs, but for what purpose? Our satanic Islamist enemies are clearly selfless idealists under the influence of charismatic leaders. So what?

Our Unknown Friend asks the questions, "Can one produce artificially intellectual, moral or spiritual inspiration? Can the lungs produce the air which they need for respiration?" No, of course not: "the very process of breathing teaches the laws of obedience, poverty, and chastity, i.e. it is a lesson (by analogy) of grace. Conscious breathing in of the reality of grace is Christian Hatha-yoga. Christian Hatha-yoga is the vertical breathing of prayer and benediction -- or, in other words, one opens oneself to grace (↓) and receives it."

Unknown Friend goes on to say that the antichristic represents "the ideal of biological and historical evolution without grace." This is a key idea, for what is a progressive? A progressive is someone who believes fervently in progress while fanatically denying its possibility, since progress can only be measured in light of permanent truths and transcendent ideals. Absent the transcendent, there is only horizontal power.

The antichrist "is the ultimate product of this evolution without grace and is not an entity created by God," since divine creation is always a vertical act or descent. Yes, all things ultimately "come from God," in the same sense that all light comes from the sun, but think of all the infernal uses to which man may put the light, darkling! For the light falls on the righteous and tenured alike.

Now, in this circular dialectic, Obama is ultimately a creator of those who created him. Unknown friend writes that, just as there are spiritual beings who reveal themselves "from above," there are what he calls egregores, which are "engendered artificially [and collectively] from below."

Thus, "as powerful as they may be," they "have only an ephemeral existence," the duration of which "depends entirely on galvanising nourishment on the part of their creators." [As Obama's projected power begins to fade and the illusion is punctured, we'll see more and more of his former supporters publicly asking, "what was I thinking?" in empowering this intellectual cypher. The answer is, "you weren't. You were fantasizing." Of course, others -- the true believers -- will "dig in."]

As such, the really frightening thing about these kinds of amorphous demagogues is that they are given life and nourished by the rabble they nourish and to whom they give life, in a spiritually barren cycle. The result is either spiritual asphyxiation or starvation, or probably both. And starved and suffocating men are capable of anything. [So in terms of the future psychic weather, look for a kind of blinding "psychic frenzy" from the left, much of which will be carried out in the dark.]

Ultimately, the antichrist is the shadow of the totality of mankind, as Jesus was the immanent shadow, so to speak, of the transcendent Divine Principle. The antichrist represents all that man is, and can be in the absence of divine grace. It is he who transported Jesus to the highest earthly mountain "and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" and said to him All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.

The secular extremist or fanatical progressive worships his own creation, and in so doing, gives birth to the antiword. Materially, it results in a lefthound Tower of Babel (i.e, the all-powerful state), whereas spiritually it results in a gelatinous tower of leftist babble (i.e., the vacuous but seductive demagogue who will lead the people in the direction of their most base impulses and envious desires).

Again, please bear in mind that we are simply discussing abstract meta-cosmic principles. The events depicted in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to any biologically living or spiritually dead person is merely coincidental.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Crown of Creation: On the Cosmic Necessity of Man

Under these oppressive rhinoviral circumsneezes, I'm not even going to try. So here's an innerattuning flashslack from a few hundred posts ago, fourtofived with six essential vertamins and 70% more bobservations.

Today's invOcation:

Human destiny is to hear and respond to God's speech in creation and thus, as the principium in the created universe, to draw all things back to their ultimate source. --Bernard McGinn

Back to our free associations on Self and Spirit. Just remember, these associations are going to be exceptionally free, and you get what you pray for.

Bolton begins with the perennial idea that mankind is the mediator between God and nature, or creator and creation. He is -- and this is me talkin' at ya now -- a third term that vertically links all degrees of creation, from matter to life to mind to spirit. Therefore, human beings are surely creatures, but they cannot only be creatures, since we transcend our creaturehood even while being rooted in it.

As such, transcendence is an irreducible cosmic category that pretty much blows Darwin out of the water, gosh! I say this because the principles of Darwinism cannot even be articulated without simultaneously transcending them. Or, once articulated, they falsify themselves -- like the old story of the scientistic cretin insisting that contingent cretins cannot know truth.

Now, our transcendence of nature would be an inexplicable absurdity, not to mention a bizarre nuisance, if it were not connected to, and explained by, its own source, which is "above" not below. In other words, we cannot begin our metaphysics with human consciousness somehow "hovering over the face of the waters," like God in Genesis. That's just stupid.

Let me rephrase that for added oomphasis: how can one naively begin philosophizing before accounting for the consciousness that is capable of philosophizing? For it is either contingent and therefore incapable of truth; or capable of truth and no longer contingent. To know truth is to know the necessary, or absolute. But since only like may know like, there must be something in man that shares in the being of this absoluteness.

You could say that in man there is a union of two natures that produces a third thing.

At this point I am going to ask you to use your feeble imagination, since I don't know how to reproduce the images in the book. [Update: I think I'll use that image from the other day, which I think is actually more accurate, since it depicts the "holographic middle" -- the interference pattern produced by the ascending and descending waves -- where human consciousness lives.]

Just imagine a triangle, with the base at the bottom and apex at the top. At the top is the divine-human archetype, or the Creator if you like. This bifurcates into the two points at the horizontal base of the triangle, which are male and female. In turn, the union of male and female produces a fourth thing. Thus, draw another triangle, this one the inverse of the above, with the apex now at the bottom (i.e., the nadir). If you're still with me, God should be at the top and the baby at the bottom.

As I wrote in my book, the neurologically incomplete baby is not just the hinge of cosmic evolution, but the very point of entry for our humanness, the narrow pain in the neck through which we must all pass on the way to maturity.

As such, we have a novel way of understanding Bolton's observation that "the fourth element (the nadir) is in a sense a recapitulation of the first (the apex) on a lower level, which also has some bearing on the meaning of childhood in relation to God."

For the baby -- the divine child, as it were -- is indeed a sort of earthly analogue of God, in that he knows no boundaries, is innocent and "omnipotent," and embodies a kind of infinite potential. I don't think it is any coincidence whatsoever that the baby Jesus is so central to Christian iconography. For God to become man, he had to first become infant, for infancy is the quintessence of, and gateway to, humanness.

Another way of considering the same triangle is to place God at the top, only now bifurcating into providence (or destiny) and fate, or perhaps freedom (or chance) and necessity. Once again, place a second triangle below, with man representing the union of fate and providence.

Here again, this encapsulates the irreducible irony, as it were, of the human condition, which makes us simultaneously apes and/or gods, so to speak (Darwinians get this right, but in a metaphysically garbled manner, since the ape is vertically descended from man).

How could one not laugh at the human predicament? Once again, we see that the man below is an earthly analogue of God above. Man is the "cosmic baby," with all that implies. Like a baby, we are born with a kind of infinite potential (relatively speaking) that we may or may not fulfill. And to fulfill it, we must indeed "imitate the Creator," more on which below.

Either way, we must somehow reconcile fate and providence. As mentioned yesterday, "the stars incline, but do not compel." However, as our the Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement reminded us, they do indeed compel in the absence of insight or self-understanding.

In short, as we discussed at length a couple of weeks ago, fate is precisely what interferes with our destiny. Or, to put it colloquially, if you remain on your present path, you're liable to end up where you're headed. Which could very well be a waste of a perfectly good cosmos. So if you see a fork in the transdimensional road, by all means take it.

Now, Bolton makes the interesting observation that Adam and Eve are created on the sixth and final day of creation, after the rest of the creatures (which, when you think about it, is entirely consistent with an evolutionary worldview, only in a higher Octave). As such, "on this basis, the human being can be taken to be resultant of divine action and the created natural order as a whole." Human beings are last because they are first; or first because they are last.

In any event, the point is that humans, and only humans, recapitulate the whole of creation within their very substance, which you might say is "two creatures" in one being. We are simultaneously fully animal and man, with two distinct wills with which we must grapple and try to reconcile. I forget the words they use, but Jewish metaphysics articulates this truth very precisely.

Which may well be why Freud came up with the idea of id and superego to talk about the lower and higher selves. "Id" is simply the German word for "it." We are all inhabited by the It, are we not? Usually, a mind parasite is a kind of unholy union of the It and a purloined piece of our subjectivity. Come to think of it, you could draw another triangle on that basis, which is why our mind parasites become the equivalent of "unconscious gods," if you will, or even if you don't. That is, they have wills of their own.

Bolton notes that the lower realm (remember, human beings necessarily embody all realms) "represents the life of instinct which attaches to the body, ruled by pleasure and pain, because its higher possibilities depend on its participation in those of the soul." In short, we must baptize the It (or make it kosher, I suppose).

Now, you could say that man was and is a cosmic necessity, in the sense that only he binds the higher and lower, and there is no such thing as an incomplete hierarchy. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it: "Unless there was such a being as man, comprising both archetypal and material reality at once, Providence and Fate (or nature) would have no means of relating to one another." Man's primary vocation is therefore "bridge builder," or "universal pontifex," "so long as it is understood that this function is a potentiality in need of realization."

In short, no man, no cosmos.

Where does this leave Christ?

I know, I know! Pick me!

Yes Dr. Bolton?

"[T]he mediation of Christ as Redeemer is both the prototype of man's cosmic mediation, as well as being the revealed basis of salvation."

It is in the cosmos of natural kinds that the fulness of the Being of the world must needs unfold and manifest itself, and man is the being in which this fulness becomes fulfilled and comes into its own. This is precisely the reason why God's absolute fulness of Being can choose man as the being and the vessel in which to reveal his own inner fulness to the world. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

On Blowing Up the Temple in Order to Save It

I'm recovering from a cold this morning, so it would be taxing the Gagdad constitution were I to attempt a new post. In searching through the arkive, I tried to find an old one that was neither too good nor too bad, but something I could work with in order to get it up to speed. This one seemed to have some untapped potential, some hidden innerstices where I could inject some new thoughts....

As I have mentioned before -- not merely for autobobographical reasons, but to illuminate a principle -- I didn't move through the educational ranks in the usual way. I couldn't have been less interested in school until I was maybe 23 years of age, after returning to college subsequent to spending two years on a blue collar job, a job I happily held until obtaining my Ph.D. in 1988, 12 years in all. I had to leave the supermarket at that time, because I couldn't bear the thought of the manager broadcasting over the intercom, "Dr. Godwin to checkstand three."

I was initially a business major, but only by default. Since my only interest in being there was to defer adult employment for as long as possible before bowing to its inevitability, a degree in business seemed vague enough that it would be a ticket to the adult world when the day came for me to reluctantly turn myself in to the Conspiracy and "grow up."

I won't review all of the subsequent events. The point is, I came to the academic world as an outsider in every way. As a result, I never came to learn the ways and customs of this world -- its dogmas, unwritten rules, its conventional wisdom, its many preconceptions. I also came to it without ambition, agenda, or commercial motive, only sincerity and curiosity.

But a person with no ambition and no agenda is always a threat to the establishment. Bear in mind that when I say this, I am not trying to elevate myself to some sort of romantic "outlaw" figure; rather, I am speaking purely generically of certain principles that apply to any established institution or culture.

The psychoanalyst W.R. Bion spoke of it in terms of what he called the "establishment" and the "messiah." The establishment -- by virtue of being one -- eventually becomes sclerotic, predictable, and rule-bound, and loses contact with the original impulse that brought it onto being. Eventually it serves only its own interest, which is to go on being and to grow in power.

This occurs in politics, in business, in the labor movement, and even in intimate relationships. I am certainly not excluding the GOP from this process; to the contrary, that is its whole problem -- that it is mainly composed of a bunch of weak-willed, unprincipled, and self-interested cowards and mediocrities whose only "conservatism" involves conserving their own power.

On the micro end of the spectrum, a marriage can become stale and predictable, with the two partners taking on utterly predictable roles that then seem to dictate and "contain" them. It is as if they are no longer free, but living within psychic grooves that guide every thought and action. Reality -- O -- is slowly eclipsed, often, ironically, because we cannot tolerate the disturbing intimacy and openness of contact with O. In these cases, love doesn't die, but is killed by mind parasites that cannot tolerate intimacy because it undermines their own power over the psyche.

Sound abstract? It isn't, not by a long shot. I'm thinking of a patient who failed to bond with his parents, and then carried on a sexual relationship with another boy between the ages of 7 and 13. This became his primary attachment to the interpersonal world. But there was no real human contact between them except the sex. Aside from that, hardly word passed between them. Thus, his model for relating to the human world was almost "hydraulic" in nature, split off from any feelings of warmth, tenderness, or intimacy.

As an adult, he was never able to have a meaningful relationship of any kind. His only outlet consisted of anonymous sexual encounters every week or two. Although he was able to work, away from work he lived in a little "sanctuary" as he called it, safely cut off from the demands of the world. He would venture out of this shell only in order to work or to engage in the anonymous sexual encounters.

Consciously, this lifestyle was simply his "preference," but he also had enough insight to know that he was actually terrified to step outside the narrow boundaries of the little world he had created for himself. Such a person generally thinks they are "protecting" themselves from being hurt by others.

But more often than not, they are protecting the other from themselves, specifically, from a kind of devouring love that is primitive and violent in its intensity. That is, if his true infantile needs were to be expressed in a relationship -- remember, they were fixated at the earliest stage -- they would experience overwhelming anxiety about what would be unleashed from the unconscious chains. The key point is that they unconsciously identify love with danger and destruction, so they end up "protecting" others from their love, not their hate.

Now that I'm on the topic, Bion also wrote about how the child functions as the messiah to the couple. The couple wishes for a messiah to "save" it, and places this hope into the child. Thus, the poorest people in the most abject circumstances nevertheless greet the arrival of a new child with hope and joy. The infant is a sort of psycho-spiritual poultrice that draws us out of ourselves and puts us in touch with the infinite. As I expressed it in my book, they give us "a touch of infanity." They are a means of escape from ourselves, back to ourselves, in that, in order to properly relate to an infant, you must get in touch with your own unconscious infanity. This can be both liberating and/or dreadful, depending upon one's personal biography.

This is interesting, for it shows the dialectical nature of our humanness, which always revolves around the axis of knowledge and infinite mystery -- or O and (k). The reason I place the parentheses around (k) is to evoke this idea of containment and of tentativeness. Whatever little bit of (k) we possess, in the end, it is like two little parentheses in eternity.

Or, imagine standing in the ocean and cupping your hands together, measuring the water between them. As we win a bit more (k) from the formless infinite, the distance between our hands increases. But as compared to the ocean, our (k) is but a drop. And it is always preliminary, on pain of being dysfunctional. In other words, the moment knowledge becomes saturated, it no longer performs the function of gaining more knowledge. It cannot be used as a stepping stone to vault one further into O. Rather, it is simply "dead" from the psychic point of view, like a dusty old book taking up space on your shelves.

In formulating his model of the mind, one of Bion's central goals was to forge, as he called it, a "language of achievement." In short, he wanted to create a way to "think about thinking" that would spur creative advance into O, rather than merely being some sort of dry academic theory that one could memorize once and for all. This is why I say that Bion was not only one of the greatest psychoanalysts who ever lived, but one of the world's greatest mystic-philosophers, even though few people outside a certain subspecialty of psychoanalysis even know his name. Perhaps others have touched on the problems he addressed, but I just haven't heard of them.

Because Bion's is a "language of achievement" -- he is literally attemting to simultaneously formulate and demonstrate his ideas -- different people come away from his writings with quite different conceptions. In other words, Bion does not so much "teach" as "provoke."

In my case, I felt that I had understood him perfectly, and yet, when I began reading the secondary literature, I soon realized that others did not necessarily share my understanding, or what Bion called "vertex." The vertex is the point at which an axis meets a surface, in this case, the point at which our (k) intersects O. Thus, in the end, you cannot be a Bionian. Rather, you can only become yourself through an encounter with his writing. And if this or that aspect of my writing accomplices anycrime like the same thing for this or that Raccoon, then this masked pandit will have achieved his purpose.

I am reminded of something that Dr. Grotstein once wrote. He mentioned that he had gone to hear Bion lecture for the first time. Now, from his side of things, Bion never spoke from prepared notes. Rather, he spoke "from O," as it were, meaning that each lecture was an adventure, a sort of fishing expedition in the formless infinite ocean. Let's just see what we can pull out!

Grotstein said that he came away from the lecture not only understanding little of what Bion had said, but even being a bit perplexed and annoyed. However, before he went to sleep, he furiously jotted down ideas for about five papers he was to eventually write. That is the language of achievement. It doesn't so much place content into your mind as little "depth charges" that generatively blast away at the existing framework. It doesn't so much generate "secondary literature" but a new primary literature, something like, oh, I don't know, this.

Now, perhaps it won't surprise you to know that at this very moment, I am attempting to "write from O," as I always do. I have almost no idea what I have written so far, nor do I have much of an idea of what's over the verbal horizon. I'm just "following the music," as a jazzman might say. Does that sound strange? Most readers of blogs don't read very carefully, but for those of you who do, we are holding heads together in this very moment, unknowing where any of this is going to lead -- indeed, if it is going to lead anywhere. In the language of King Crimson, it may simply end in a "train wreck," which is the price one must pay for trying to collectively improvise within O. For if there is to be achievment, there must be the possibiliy of failure.

Bion called this open and expectant attitude "faith." Once again, as with "messiah" and "establishment," he is not using the word in any conventional "saturated" way, but in the most abstract way possible. Faith is simply a prerequisite for any generative encounter with O.

Can you see why? If we come to O with too many preconceptions, we will merely be taking a plunge into the known, not the unknown. We specifically want to win a bit of (k) from O, not superimpose (k) over it. When we do the latter, we are more or less in the conventional world that extends from caveman to tenureman. Obviously, there is nothing unavidably retarded with the latter world. Far from it. It only becomes so when it eclipses O, as in the case of scientism, or materialism, or atheism, or Marxism, or Darwinism, which all superimpose an abstract and dead model over the living O.

And please, I am not suggesting that only ideologies I reject can eclipse O. Far from it. Religion, which is all about the language of achievement, can obviously become as dead, saturated, and "contained" as anything else, mere "churchianity." For example, it is no insult to Judaism to say that Jesus arrived at a time when it had -- apparently, since I'm sure there's another side to the story -- become overly saturated and rule-bound, in the same way that Buddha reanimated Hinduism from the outside.

In fact, to set aside any possible charges of anti-Semitism, let us just say that the dialectic between Jesus and the "scribes and Pharisees" is there to teach us a more general lesson about the relationship between establishment and messiah, or spirit and letter. The same principle applies to both new and used testaments. A Jew can appreciate the underlying lesson no less than a Christian, for it is obviously possible to reduce the infinite Torah to some manmade dogma, when the whole point of Torah is to have a generative and living encounter between the word of God and the soul of man.

Torah is a language of achievment par excellence. Oy vey, just consider the many possible interpretations of Genesis, each no less correct than the others so long as it has been genuinely realized and not merely "learned." The other day I was at the park, when I saw what looked like a rabbi and his teenage son sitting at a picnic table, poring over a Bible together. I intentionally sidled over to try to eavesdrop on the conversation, for I imagined them wrestling with the text, father encountering the finite infinity of Torah again for the first time through the eyes of his son -- the messiah!

Now, it is equally clear to me that Jesus nearly always spoke the language of achievement. Think about it for a moment. So sophisticated was he that he fully understood the paradox that if he had spoken unambiguously of O, he would be misunderstood. Therefore, he spoke mainly in paradoxables that serve the purpose of vaulting the mind out of its habitual grooves. Thus he was also a messiah in the more terrestrial Bionian sense of saving ourselves from ourselves and providing us with a fruitful language to talk and think about O. Yes, his words are "folly to the Greeks" -- which they must be if they are to elude the hyper-rational Greek patrol that polices our interior and tries to contain the Mystery with mere (small-r) reason.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Leftist Culture of Death: In the Beginning is the Surd

Have you ever wondered why Democrats are the Party of Death? Just what are the first principles of the unprincipled? What animates the insentient?

Now, when I say this -- and this should be obvious -- by no means am I castigating all Democrats, most of whom are no doubt fine people, just confused, uninformed, frightened, seduced, reactionary, bought off, apathetic, fearful of change, or mired in habits of thought that were formed in college and haven't changed one bit since.

We're talking about the true believers, who only constitute maybe 30% of the party, and (to the credit of decent Democrats) have to actually lie about who they are and what they believe in order to get the other 70% to go along with the program.

I can guarantee you that the majority of Democrats are not actually in favor of, say, destroying the Boy Scouts through legal harassment, or banning the ROTC from college campuses, or partial birth abortion, or state control of medicine, or Miranda rights for terrorists, or prosecuting the men and women who play rough with terrorists in order to keep us safe. These are all abominations, and if the majority of Democrats actually favored them, we'd probably be past the point of no return.

The point is, progressivism in its most virulent and pathological form is always a religion. For example, another one of the most prominent religious hucksters of the left is Marianne Williamson, who is on par with Deepak in terms of spiritual stupidity and corruption. She is upset because Obama is not yet governing as a one hundred percent Marxist, as if that is possible given the constraints mentioned above, i.e., that most Democrats would not be happy to know Obama's true agenda. Therefore, it must be enacted with stealth and deceit, protected by a bodyguard of media liars and bouncers.

After all, Obama is not being constrained by Republicans, as Williamson suggests. Democrats control all three branches of government, and can literally do whatever pleases them, including even fundamentally unconstitutional things such as socialized medicine. Indeed, their satanic judicial philosophy conveniently allows them to interpret the Constitution as meaning whatever they need it to mean in order to achieve their statist goals.

In order for the left to succeed, it must necessarily mask its first principle -- that it is the party of Death -- and affirm the opposite. Therefore, Williamson says that her first political principle is derived from "the immense unnecessary suffering in the world." She says to herself, "Wow, it's sad about all that pain people are going through. Let's try to assuage it."

First of all, it's not "let's try to assuage it." Rather, it's "let's you try to assuage it by the government taking enough of your money." The left always talks about the "social contract," but it's not a contract if the other party says to me, "your signature or your freedom. Your choice."

Nor does Williams consider the fact that the majority of human pain is self-inflicted, either due to personal issues or simply the nature of fallen man. To imagine that we could ever eliminate the suffering to which man is heir -- and much of which is actually necessary in order to grow -- is to live as a child. And since suffering can never actually be eradicated, it is to grant infinite power to the state to keep trying. It's like giving the state a mandate to end romantic heartbreak.

And of course, the religious abstractions of the left prevent them from seeing all of the faceless victims of their war on poverty, i.e., the poor. One cannot imagine them ever trying to tally the cost of the broken homes, the urban blight, the criminality, the murder, rape and violence that all skyrocketed when the federal government decided that it knew how to end poverty without causing catastrophic unintended consequences. As it stands, Obama is creating more poor and dependent people as fast as he can, and yet Williamson isn't satisfied. What more can he do?

The empty promises of the left are rooted in false premises about reality, most especially, materialism and relativism. When I say that their first philosophical move is to turn the cosmos upside down, I mean this quite literally.

But after they do so, they quickly adapt to the world they have created, so that it appears "real" to them (very much like the glasses that turn the field of vision upside down; within a matter of weeks, the brain adapts, and the person has no difficulty making their way through the world. But remove the distorting glasses, and they will again be disoriented.)

Now, if matter is ultimate, then relativism necessarily follows, since materialism undermines the very possibility of truth. Please note what necessarily follows from the initial premise: life is actually death; consciousness is actually matter; love is only lust (or some kind of deceptive power game); form is substance; democracy is truth; quality is quantity; existence is nothing; and creation itself is just our bad luck.

And creation is bad in the absence of a creator. How could it not be? This has been addressed ad nauseam (literally) in the existentialist literature of the 20th century, so there is no need for me to press the point. If there is no God, then will and appetite are supreme, and life is a horror.

This is the real reason the left affirms a right to die but not a right to life. They reject the right to life because they hate (or at least devalue) life, while they perversely oppose capital punishment because they are (necessarily) fearful of death.

For when you invert the cosmos, your new absolute is grim death. Death is the only certainty. Furthermore, it is a meaningless death, therefore something to be avoided at all costs -- including the cost of a meaningful life, since there can be no meaning anyway. Therefore, life becomes the avoidance of death at all costs, but for no reason at all. In short, Death rules. Thus, the leftist would always prefer to live on his knees than die on his feet.

For the secular leftist, God does not exist and man is him. But again, in the absence of the true God, man can only be a god of death -- and not just material death. Rather, since the god of death denies the soul, it results in the elimination of the individual, thus the dreary uniformity of the left, enforced by the intellectual brutality of political correctness. Manhood is exchanged for tenure, and ideology becomes the opiate that confers a sound sleep. Ideology is not just the study of idiots. Then again, perhaps it is.

Since the left inverts the cosmos, it becomes "bottomless" -- in other words, the infinitude of God is transformed into the existential groundlessness of the left. This is why, for example, to hear Charles Johnson or Andrew Sullivan or Keith Olbermann opine on just about anything is to hear the cosmic void "thinking out loud." This is not intellectual but intellectualism, i.e., the replacement of true ideas and principles with mere abstractions. That the abstractions are stupid and dehumanizing is beside the point. It is actually Death speaking. And if the secular left is correct, Death owns you.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A Very Impotent Spiritual Message

A Sunday Sermon to start the new year off in the right key:

Bolton writes that "dualism would appear to be an intellectual image of the cosmic order." I would prefer a term such as "generative complementarity," which is to be distinguished from a static dualism by virtue of the fact that the former is capable of evolving into the "higher third," thus converting existence from the closed circle to the open spiral, or.... what's the term, Jeeves? Yes, an asymptotic gyre. (On second thought, let's call it a dual gyrescape.)

In most cases, the stubborn dualism we try to eliminate is a complementarity we need to illuminate. Of course, that is not always the case, for one side of a duality can be a negation, rather than complement, of the other; for example, leftism is the negation of classical liberalism, not its complement, much less any kind of "progressive" integration. Similarly, feminism ends up creating masculinized women and feminized men, and is the death of the dynamic tension that.... that.... Let's just let Frank describe it:

How little we know / how much to discover / what chemical forces flow / from lover to lover / How little we understand / what touches of that tingle / that sudden explosion / when two tingles intermingle

Indeed. That is an example of the electricity that flows with true complementarity. But we all know that relationships can descend into an alternatively static or agitated dualism, the former like kissing your sister, the latter like being married to Tiger Woods:

The broken dates, the endless waits / the lovely loving and the hateful hates / the conversation with the flying plates / I wish I were in love again / Believe me sir, I much prefer / the classic battle of a him and her / I don't like quiet and I wish I were / in love again

Yes, who among us hasn't had the conversation with the flying plates? Isn't that why the trolls come here? They're not here to con-verse, which means to "flow together." Rather, they are here to stir up contro-versy, which means to "flow against" in their characteristic unerotic -- to say nothing of unDude -- manner. Our devoted anonymous troll cannot help getting his jollies by throwing around the plate in his head.

The very possibility of knowledge hinges on the generative dualism of phenomena and noumenon. To "know" means to shorten the distance, or close the gap, between appearances and reality. (As we shall see later, the reverse is true for "spiritual progress," in that the closer one draws to God, the more one appreciates the distance.) It seems that Truth bifurcates into these two realms, which it must do on pain of having no creation at all. Paradoxically -- but not really -- you could say that existence itself is the first "fall," since it is a descent from the Principle. But don't sweat it. Eternity is still in love with the productions of time. Eternity might even say of time, can't live with it, and can't love without it.

Obviously, it is impossible for us to imagine what the cosmos looks like "with no one there." The possibility of knowledge presupposes not just a knower, but a particular point of view, a "separation of the subjective and objective components of perception" (Bolton).

But this split is not a pernicious one, nor can science ever heal it. Rather, I agree with Polanyi that the separation of subject and object creates a generative transitional space in which our understanding may evolve into deeper and more comprehensive syntheses of reality. Thus, the practice of science can be seen as a kind of shadow of infinite truth, except that, unlike mysticism, it can never reach the goal unless it first escapes the gaol of matter.

As Bolton says, dualism "enables us to go abroad while staying at home. All that is 'out there' is at the same time 'in here,'" meaning that science is simultaneously a deepening of the objective and subjective horizons -- so long as one doesn't regard the external world in the naive manner of the simple materialist or bonehead Darwinian. As we always say, consciousness reveals more about Darwinism than Darwinism will ever reveal about consciousness. If you remember this, you can accept any findings of Darwinism without being captured in its pneumacognitive net.

Bolton agrees that representation "commits us to the idea of a Representer, and this is what is normally identified with the soul." Furthermore -- and this is a key point -- "for the soul, the body and the whole physical world which the body belongs to, appear as content. While the body is essentially something contained, the soul is essentially a container of phenomena." As such, the "complete I" includes "the world-containing and world-representing soul," and "the world, as it appears from one's own unique point of view, is in a real sense a part of one's identity" (emphasis mine).

This makes perfect nonsense to me, because we all know how dramatically different the world appears when we are depressed, or in love, or an atheist, or floating upstream on a current of (↑). Each of these conditions allows one to "see" realities that might otherwise be foreclosed. For example, I do not deny that atheism discloses something about reality, just as does depression or schizophrenia. If nothing else, they teach us that we always transcend the content of experience, for when we return to normal, we see that we had been living with blinders on, which is another way of being dead.

One thing we must be aware of is the ubiquitous societal pressure to see and experience the world in materialistic terms, which is to die to God for the sake of the world, rather than vice versa. Balthasar:

"[N]aked matter remains an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish. Since nothing else remains, and yet something must be embraced, twentieth-century man is urged to enter this impossible marriage with matter, a union which finally spoils man's taste for love. But man cannot bear to live with the object of his impotence, that which remains permanently unmastered. He must either deny it or conceal it in the silence of death."

God gives himself to man as far as that is possible, and it is only possible to the extent that the individual being is a world-containing entity with endless extension described above.... In short, there must be some common measure between the recipient and the received. When the human state is seen in this light, it will not be difficult to proceed to the idea of man as God's mediator in the world. --Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit

Then again, as Saint Teresa of Ávila might have said of the Groom, So long as you kiss me / and the world around us shatters / How little it matters / how little we know.



*****

First images of the new pack member:


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Obama and End-Stage Metastatic Liberalism

With his trademark smug stupidity, Barack Obama affirmed the following absolute truth in his The Audacity of Hope: "Implicit in [the Constitution's] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or 'ism,' any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course...."

Where to even begin? In a single stroke of blind ignorance (or is it malevolence?) that only a tenured barbarian could believe, Obama transmogrifies the most important conservative political document in history into a monstrous recipe for perpetual revolution that would appall the men who risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in defense of principles that were and are absolute, timeless, and universal, precisely.

And if these principles are not conserved, mankind is finished -- or at least Man as such is. There will always be room for the little human beastlings who cash in their manhood for the soul-grinding security offered by the swaddling state, and hop around like Nietzsche's fleas at the end of history.

This is how it begins -- and ends. That is, the decadent myth of liberalism is ultimately rooted in a crude relativism that reduces truth to opinion, and therefore exalts cosmic stupidity above all. The bang of Marx ends in the whimp of Obama. Or at least Obama's bong gives off a whiff of Marx.

Once this is accomplished, there is no longer any ground for permanent truth, nor any way to arbitrate between competing truth claims. Therefore, raw power rushes in to fill the vacuum. It's as simple as that. The irony is that so many "sophisticated" liberals supported Obama for his "brains," when they were actually ratifying his muscle. The Chicago Way is not about thinking. It is about shoving and bullying -- the Ferragamo boot on the neck. It is the politics of the mid-brain, not the frontal lobes.

It is also necessarily about "action" rather than reflection, and action quickly reduces to "change," or just agitation. But since Obama has already assured us that there are no permanent truths, this is change that necessarily "goes nowhere," for where is there to go in a meaningless and truth-free world? Like purely Darwinian change, it's all horizontal, not vertical. One place is no different than any other. Legs, fins, wings, wheels, what's the difference? It's the journey that matters, the bracing sensation of a dog with its head out the car window.

But real liberalism -- i.e., conservatism -- situates the American journey in a much wider context of divine revelation, or universal history. For we recognize that there is actually only one story, and that it is (among other things) the story of liberty. But obviously not the liberty of the left, since they detach it from the truth, beauty, and virtue -- the permanent things -- without which it is just another name for confusion, disorientation, blundering along in the dark. Being lost is hardly the same as being free, although it can feel like it for awhile, at least until the provisions run out.

The contemporary liberal violently severs the ombiblical cord that connects us to the past and future generations who share our journey, and to whom we owe a measure of our allegiance.

For mankind is not just unified in space, but in time -- which is why hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave their life for America -- the real and permanent America that is the champion of universal truth in this benighted world -- weep for what Obama is doing to the country they loved. We know this because we are connected to them. The contemptuous liberal cannot know it, for in his world, the person who risks his life for this hopelessly flawed country is either a dupe or a moron or psychopath with violent tendencies and imperialistic designs.

The difference between a conservative and a liberal is that the former loves America, while the latter loves some abstract idea of what America should be in his Marxian fantasies. This is why they want to punish the men and women who kept us safe since 2001, while giving the benefit of every doubt to the terrorists who seek to destroy us. It is quite obvious where their sympathies lie.

To reject the sacred truths that uphold reality and course through the arteries of existence is not only a kind of desecration of the dead, it is also an auto-lobotomy, for it is to sever oneself from the collective wisdom and experience of mankind -- as if the tiny stock of blinkered opinions and provincial attitudes Obama absorbed while floating amongst the tenured can in any way compete with Madison, or Tocqueville, or Adam Smith.

Truly, it's like going through life with vital organs amputated, except that these are organs of intellect and spirit, or psyche and soul. These organs are designed to know truth, not to replace it with the intemperate follies and fashions the day.

Russell Kirk notes that decadence "amounts to the loss of an end, an object." Obama openly and explicitly severs America from its spiritual end, its telos, its reason for being. We will either continue to decay and deteriorate with bat-faced liberals leading the way down into darkness, or be reborn in the light of our original mandate and purpose, forged and fought for by men both wiser and braver than the hollow poseur who occupies the White House, and sanctioned by heaven.

*****

Radiant Stupidity or Cosmic Narcissism?:



A slightly more soothing image of the backyard of the slackatoreum this fine morning (click to enlarge):

Friday, January 01, 2010

On Talking Pure Nonsense About Nothing

Too late for a new post, so this is a rerun. It was the first one I grabbed, but it kept my attention, so here it is.

Sometimes I think I should actually republish things from the arkive more often. First, they're generally new to me, since I write them in such a blur. Re-reading them in a different mode of consciousness allows me to critique and edit them, plus I have the added benefit of whatever growth has taken place since the post was written, so I can subtly correct "errors" that might cause people to question Petey's omniscience.

We begin with a couple of orthoparadoxical observations. If you're at all hangedover, you may not want to think about them too hard:

God is distinguished by his indistinction from any other distinct things... --Meister Eckhart

"Eckhart was obviously fascinated by the question of what we think we are doing when we attempt to speak about God. In one sense, his whole surviving corpus is an exploration of this issue. Why is speech necessary when silence is more fitting?" (McGinn).

You might say that Eckhart packs up where Thomas "the Strawman" Aquinas lifted off, in the abysmal silence at the beginning and end of all verbalization; which is why the MeistrO could say that "the Word which is in the silence of the fatherly Intellect is a Word without word, or rather a Word above every word." In the beginning -- or at the Origin, to be precise -- is the wordless Word, or pure spirit-breath hovering over the face of the deep.

Now, is this true? No, not really. It just removes some of the barriers to falsehood. It just cleans some of the grime from your mirror.

I was reading some Balthasar again yesterday, and he was essentially emphasizing a point also made by Schuon, to the effect that if you do not first appreciate the infinite chasm between you and God, you cannot possibly appreciate the unity; for the difference is a fact, while the similarities are merely analogical.

In other words, there is always an "as if" component to our divine likeness. To deny this is to engage in a monstrous breach of spiritual etiquette, to say the least. It's analogous to affirming that "all men are created equal," and then using this as a pretext to suggest that there is no difference between a good man and an Olbermann. In other words, it can drag God down just as easily as pull man up. ("Although in our Father's house are many mansions, they are not all on the same floor..." --Russell Kirk.)

Here again, the metaphysical implication of this is a kind of irreducible dualism that exists for a reason, as argued by Bolton in Self and Spirit: "Arguably the duality of soul and God could be an ultimate reality.... There are in fact profound reasons for the duality of God in relation to the soul, which are only ignored because of prevailing habits of thought."

I always chuckle when someone expresses the cliche that we only believe in dualism because of what some philosopher said 400 years ago. It's like arguing that we only believe in, say, the reality of time, because Hegel said it was a mode of the infinite. That's giving waaaay too much credit to the tenured.

But that's what intellectuals do: confer much more importance to themselves and their little stock of perishable ideas than is warranted. For example, as I have argued in the past, liberty had to first be "lived" before it could be discovered and developed as an abstract value. Here you see an important point, that incarnation precedes cogitation. Intellectuals tend to live in abstractions that are not only unworkable in practice, but create tyranny and oppression, e.g., socialized medicine.

Bolton agrees that "when we attribute the influence of Dualism to Descartes, we are implicitly attributing to him the power of imposing his peculiar way of thinking on a whole civilization for three centuries.... In reality, this kind of power is so rare that it is usually considered an attribute of the founders of religions, not of philosophers." In short, we are putting Descartes before d'horse.

In fact, Descartes simply identified "a certain element in the way in which human minds have always worked, and create[d] a system around it." After all, consciousness and matter are so profoundly different, that no one has to press the point. The trick is in trying to understand how they relate, without simply subsuming (or supra-suming) the one into the other.

This reminds me of something Richard Weaver wrote, to the effect that the denial of religion always conceals a denial of mind; thus, the ineradicable anti-intellectualism of the secular left. Here again, Bolton agrees that "the denial of Dualism means in practice a denial of consciousness itself, and the modern philosophers who argue for this are arguing for something which not only most people do not believe, but which they themselves do not believe except, perhaps, in the lecture room."

In reality, as it pertains to the manner in which we actually live, consciousness is quite literally everything, for "it is the container and basis of phenomena as such." No strictly naturalistic "theory of everything" (or TOE) will ever account for the person who understands it, why he wants to tell others about it, or how it is even possible to cause "understanding" in another subject -- whatever that is. The moment you understand the theory, you've breached the unity. And "understanding" is not simply a meaningless epiphenomenon, like some annoying fungus on your great TOE.

If we are going to ditch dualism, then we had better come up with a more adequate substitute, not merely a philosophy that unexplains everything dualism explained. After all, we only know that there are objects of consciousness because there are objects and there is consciousness. Therefore, any denial of dualism necessarily begins in dualism, or else there is no knower and no possibility of knowledge, as if the grin could be separate from the Cheshire Cat, or Obama's fluency from the TOTUS.

Still, there is a way out of this dualistic coonundrum. In my view, there are certain irreducible dualities in the cosmos. Furthermore, I have always suspected that they are all somehow related, or perhaps reflections of some primordial meta-duality. I am thinking of the One and the many, time and eternity, absolute and infinite, male and female, wave and particle, part and whole, form and substance, individual and group, subject and object, conscious and unconscious, boxers and briefs, and a few others.

Some might suggest that the brain is therefore a kind of "duality generator," but Bolton argues that the brain evolved long before we had anything to say about it, "under cosmic conditions which had the power to determine the form of the brain in accordance with their own nature." In short, the objective structure of the brain reveals something objectively true about the subjective nature of reality -- or about the inner nature of the ultimate Subject.

It all has to do with the meaning of within.

To be continued, if tomorrow can ever know....